Greeks Zoroaster (Zarathustra) inventor of
magic and astrology | 14th Grade
Zoroaster appears as “Sarastro” in Mozart’s opera
The ancient Greeks saw Zoroaster (Zarathustra) as the inventor of both magic and astrology.
Deriving from that image, and reinforcing it, was a mass of literature attributed
to him that circulated the Mediterranean world from the third century BCE to the end of
antiquity and beyond. The Greeks considered the best wisdom to be exotic wisdom,
and what better and more convenient authority could there be than the distant — temporally and
geographically — Zoroaster?
Zoroaster was known as a sage, magician, and miracle-worker in post-Classical
Western culture. Although almost nothing was known of his ideas until the late 18th century, by
that time his name was already associated with lost ancient wisdom. Zoroaster
appears as “Sarastro” in Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute, where he represents moral order (cf. Asha)
in opposition to the Queen of the Night.
Enlightenment writers such as Voltaire promoted research into Zoroastrianism in the belief that
it was a form of rational Deism, preferable to Christianity.
In the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's seminal work Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche creates
a characterization of Zarathustra as the mouthpiece for Nietzsche's own ideas against morality.
Richard Strauss’s Opus 30, inspired by Nietzsche’s book, is also called Also
Sprach Zarathustra. Its opening theme was used to score the opening sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s
movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.